Flora, fauna and communities set to flourish through Jobs for Nature

  • Hon Kiritapu Allan

An initiative that has provided tourism workers with alternative employment into the lead up to New Zealand’s borders reopening is being extended to ensure staff are retained, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

It is one of two projects in the Waikato-Maniapoto to receive funding through the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme, and will mean job certainty for 39 locals.

Today’s announcements build on an existing $12.3 million Jobs for Nature investment the Government has made into the Waikato and Maniapoto districts.

There are 14 Jobs for Nature projects in Waikato, Maniapoto and Coromandel set to employ 202 people in a range of conservation work which will see them upskilled and focus on protection of natural areas, biodiversity and a broad range predator control.

The investment in the Jobs for Nature projects is having significant positive impact on people’s well-being, economic situation and their contribution to conservation and protection of important New Zealand fauna and flora. The projects deliver protection of native species including whio and kauri and empower mana whenua to undertake work on ancestral land.

Revegetation and protection of endemic species are key features of the projects said Minister Allan.

“The Apakura Ruranga project – the Maungatautari to Pirongia Ecological Corridor – will see work commence to rejoin two mountains, both of which have significant biodiversity value and are rich with native flora and fauna,” Minister Allan said.

“The project is a collaboration involving iwi, central and local government agencies, local communities, and volunteers from across the Waikato.

“It will focus on the Mangapiko Stream that runs east-west between Pirongia and Maungatautari. Improving areas along the stream will create a natural ‘stepping stone’ for native birds and other fauna travelling between the two mountains. DOC’s three year investment is tagged for Matakitaki Pā, a culturally significant site.

“Tourism Holdings Limited is a key employer in Maniapoto, through its Discover Waitomo operations offering blackwater rafting and glowworm cave experiences.

“The company’s staff have been redeployed into tasks and work programmes supporting species protection and maintaining Department of Conservation areas in Maniapoto, including locations near where the company runs its operations, since last year.

“The investment announced today extends the project by a further 12 months, ensuring the company can retain 39 staff, including three new team members, who live and work in the community.

“Pest control work will ensure native species can flourish, while revegetation and fencing work at several sites will benefit waterways and the species within them,” Minister Allan said.

Summary of funded projects announced today:

Tourism Holdings Limited will be funded $650,000 for a 12-month extension of its existing Jobs for Nature project. The team will undertake track maintenance and ecosystem restoration planting at several sites in the Waitomo District, including popular reserves Ruakuri, Marokopa Falls and Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk.

The Maungatautari to Pirongia Ecological Corridor Project will receive $250,000 in funding over three years for planting and protecting ecological “stepping stones” at the Matakitaki Pā. The stream and surrounding area are a vital corridor for native bird populations at Maungatautari and Pirongia, and planting work will improve and extend suitable habitat. The project will employ up to 15 people.

Background information

The Government’s Mahi mō te Taiao | Jobs for Nature programme is supercharging the efforts of the Department of Conservation, iwi and hapū, councils, and the wider community to implement kaitiakitanga as well as stimulating the economy post-Covid. This funding will help restore the mauri and mana of Te Taiao (our nature) by controlling pests and weeds, restoring wetlands, and returning native bush, rivers, and streams to health.

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